The James Noble Ward journal (114 pages) concerns Ward's experiences as a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, from August 20, 1843-March 23, 1844. From August 20, 1843-August 28, 1843, he described his return to New York from his home in Georgia, where he had been on furlough. He reflected on his family and on leaving home and later commented on the scenery and his fellow passengers as he traveled by stage, steamer, and rail along the Atlantic Coast and in the state of New York.
His daily entries at West Point pertain to many aspects of life at the academy, such as classes, drilling, and leisure activities. Ward most frequently commented on his math, chemistry, and philosophy courses, and occasionally told stories about other cadets, often related to their performance in drill exercises. Some of the anecdotes are humorous, such as Ward's account of one cadet's mistakes when issuing drill orders (September 27, 1843). He sometimes discussed his expectations about graduating and made notes about his family. The diary includes descriptions of visits by General Henri Gatien Bertrand (October 28, 1843) and New York Governor William C. Bouck (November 1, 1843). Ward mentioned special occasions such as a Christmas dinner (December 25, 1843) and his opportunity to see pieces of a mastodon skeleton and a petrified head on display in the academy's library (November 15, 1843). Though he rarely commented on politics, he complained about a Congressional proposal to cut military funding in his entry of March 16, 1844.